Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Directed by Greg Mottola
Evan: I’m just sick of all the amateur stuff. If I’m paying top dollar, I want a little production value. Y’know, some editing, transitions, some music.
Seth: Well, I’m sorry, Evan, that the Coen brothers don’t direct the porn that I watch. They’re hard to get a hold of.
Ah, to be young and free. It was a simpler time when the pursuit of booze and babes was enough to drive a young man right through to adulthood. Alright, so this wasn’t my personal youth experience but it is the premise of director Greg Mottola’s SUPERBAD, a new breed of teenage sex comedy. Here, partying and getting naked with girls are exposed as a thinly veiled act of desperation to prove how grown up one is. The kids are speeding down a hill, screaming their excitement to the sky, but can see that they are also getting closer and closer to everything they’re afraid of, waiting for them at the bottom. Before they know it, high school will be over and Seth and Evan (Jonah Hill and Michael Cera), best friends since they were five, will find themselves going in separate directions to different colleges. While one raucous night finds them trying to score alcohol to impress the girls they each want to get with, it is what they learn about each other, their futures and themselves that will end up defining the night they thought would simply be the night they got some.
Whether Seth and Evan are trying on pants and debating what exactly is “too tight” or discussing the injustices of men having to hide their erections in shame from the rest of the world while buying drinks at the corner store, they are always hilarious. You could put these two in practically any scenario and the laughs would flow. They are drastically different but compliment each perfectly. Seth is loud and foul. Nearly every thought that comes out of his mouth is about sex and he is completely oblivious to the world around him. Meanwhile, Evan is mild mannered and meekly composed. He is constantly muttering sarcastic quips that most don’t hear and is acutely aware of his surroundings. The two are inseparable but one gets the impression their friendship is based more on its history than what they have in common. One thing they do have in common though is awkwardness. While one covers up his insecurity with obnoxious remarks and the other barely hides it at all, they both have each other to be themselves with. The beauty of their performances lies in the conveyance of the recently rising knowledge that the friendship that makes them feel safe is also now the friendship that is stopping them from going any further.
Written by KNOCKED UP star, Seth Rogen and long time friend, Evan Goldberg, SUPERBAD is at times genius in its subtlety. This is no easy feat considering how outrageous it is most of the time. Loosely basing Seth and Evan on themselves (sorry fellas but the names give it away), they manage to pinpoint the moment these boys become aware of their co-dependence. The two characters are so well drawn that you never want them to leave the screen. Only they do to make room for a third friend, Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Fogell is somehow even more socially retarded than Seth and Evan and is himself a funny enough secondary character despite his entire existence being based on one-off joke that is given away in the preview (McLovin!). It is the direction his character takes the film in that is an unnecessary distraction. Fogell/McLovin spends his night riding around in the back of a police cruiser with two of the worst police officers ever to walk the beat (played by Rogen and Bill Hader, whom I would sooner never see on film again). The cops are such screw-ups that all they do is make every scenario they’re in worse than it was before they got there. With most of their humour falling flat and not coming close to measuring up to Seth and Evan, they have a similar effect on the film itself. Filler is rarely fun and here it exposes the writers’ insecurity regarding their own abilities.
So this is the story of how Seth Rogen is both his best friend and worst enemy at the same time. Alongside Goldberg, the two have stated publicly how they never want to grow up. While that gives them a particular insight into the pivotal crossroads Seth and Evan, the characters, find themselves at, it also makes SUPERBAD, a movie about maturity which is meant to be immature at times, less mature than it actually should be. For the most part, SUPERBAD is surprisingly mature, while still maintaining its youthful glow. Seems to me that Seth and Evan, the writers, could stand to learn a thing a two about evolution from the characters they created in their own image. Growing up isn’t all that bad and it can still be freackin’ hilarious.